Row as president’s niece takes election post ahead of Nigeria vote

The president's niece, Amina Zakari, has worked in other roles at Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission. AFP/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Nigeria’s opposition has objected to the appointment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s niece to the election commission ahead of presidential elections in February, when he will seek a second term.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) claimed the appointment Thursday of Amina Zakari to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was an attempt to rig the vote in Buhari’s favour.

Zakari, who has worked at INEC in other roles, will head a branch of the commission involved in collating the election results.

The PDP said in a statement: “for us to have a peaceful election, Mrs Amina Zakari should not be seen anywhere near any of the 2019 election processes, not to talk of being involved in the collation of presidential (vote) results.”

Buhari spokesman Garba Shehu dismissed the claim as baseless. The president was not a blood relation of Zakari, as the PDP alleged, but was related to her by marriage only, Shehu insisted.

“An inter-marriage occurred in their extended families, so the imputation of blood relationship between the president and the electoral commissioner is a simple lie,” he added.

INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu also dismissed the opposition allegations, insisting the buck stops with him.

“I am absolutely responsible for the coordination of the secretariat for the collation of results,” he said.

“But somebody has to prepare the venue for the conduct of the election, the internet service that we have to provide, accreditation of international observers and the media,” he added.

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